DLTK's Crafts for Kids
Kachina Doll - Sio Shalako (rain spirit)
(Hopi Nation)

contributed by Leanne Guenther

This cute little Kachina Doll replica is simple for young children to make. It uses a cardboard tube as the base to give it a three dimensional look -- other than that, it's just a basic color, cut and paste craft.

Kachina Dolls were (and still are) given to children (girls) during the Spring Bean planting ceremony to decorate and bless their homes and teach the children about the different spirits of the land. This one is Sio Shalako, the rain spirit. There were about 400 different little dolls for the girls to collect over the years -- butterfly, deer, eagle, sun, cloud, rain, bumblebee, mouse -- you get the idea.

The dolls were hand carved (usually by the person giving it) from cottonwood roots. Traditionally they didn't have legs (they looked a lot like one of my cardboard tube crafts!) but modern ones are often carved with separate legs and arms.

You can still purchase authentic Kachina Dolls from Hopi artisans. The Hopi are a Native American Nation in the Arizona area of the United States. Over the years, though it has been difficult at times, the Hopi have managed to maintain their unique and independent culture and language.

A note on masks versus dolls: in the Hopi culture, the dolls can by freely shared with others. The masks/costumes of the spirits, on the other hand, are more culturally siginificant and are not to be shared with those outside of the nation. That's why I've included a doll craft but not a mask one.




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